• Arrernte woman and Greens candidate for Cooper Celeste Liddle (http://asws.org.au/)Source: http://asws.org.au/
Celeste Liddle and Dr Lou Bennett have been inducted in the 2017 Victorian Honour Roll of Women for their work and achievements, but both believe it is a bitter sweet victory to be acknowledged by the same system they have spent so much time fighting against.
By
Luke Pearson

8 Mar 2017 - 9:16 PM  UPDATED 8 Mar 2017 - 9:17 PM

On the surface, this is a great news story - two acclaimed Aboriginal women being recognised for their amazing work and contributions to Victoria, and to Australia. 

Dr Lou Bennett, who many of us know from Tiddas and the Black Arm Band, who recently completed a PhD on language revival through music and who is actively involved in telling Indigenous stories through arts and theatre; and Celeste Liddle, a prominent writer and unionist who has been published in too many spaces to list but who usually writes on her own site, Black Feminist Ranter.

"It is strange to be acknowledged by the same machine that we are fighting against"

However, after speaking to both women another consideration appeared - how does it feel to be recognised by the establishment for fighting against the establishment? 

Celeste Liddle told NITV "In both mine and Lou's profiles, we were both recognised for our activism; a lot of the time in the face of various governments and their policies; which makes for an interesting dynamic."

Dr Bennett acknowledged this dynamic, but also spoke about how important it is to have the work of Aboriginal women celebrated and acknowledged. "This award wasn't just for me, it was for my partner and my family, and for all the other Aboriginal women out there who achieve amazing things every day. It is strange to be acknowledged by the same machine that we are fighting against, but it is important that we take time to celebrate our success and the success of others. It is important to remember what we are fighting for and that we look for ways to use these moments to help us gain more leverage to and more opportunities for other Aboriginal women to succeed."

There can be no question that both of these women deserve this accolade, but it is an interesting reality for those Aboriginal people who receive acknowledgement and recognition by the very system they spend so much of their time in opposition to.

Dr Lou Bennett finished by saying, "As First Nation women we fight and resist the system everyday just by being ourselves. In schools, on political platforms, on buses, in restaurants, on social media, at bars and cafes. What this award represents to me is the importance of staying true to my voice in honour of my Ancestors, Elders and community."

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